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Researching in Ireland - Dublin

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   Last chance for those interested in researching in Dublin to take advantage of the Early Bird Registration.  Information on both the Dublin and Belfast Research Trips along with registration forms can be found here.  Some people have asked if it’s worth the trip since “all of the records burned in the fire.”  The reality is that the fire at the Public Records Office (PRO) in 1922 was devastating however, not everything burned.  Civil Registration was not at the PRO, nor were the original books from Griffith’s Valuation.  In addition, since the fire, efforts have been made in the Irish genealogical community to collect records that might help substitute for the lost records.   Another comment was “everything is now online.”   Wouldn’t that be nice, but I don’t expect that to happen in my lifetime!  So what do we do in Ireland?  

   If you’re joining the research trip, most people begin in either Dublin or Belfast using the research facilities of the major repositories.  After the week, they travel to the area where their ancestors lived.  There’s nothing better that walking the land where you ancestors lived, or visiting with cousins that perhaps, you didn’t know you had!  The information below will be helpful to you even if you’re traveling on your own.

   The National Library of IrelandNational Library Reading Room is worth a trip even if you don’t plan to research.  Located on Kildare Street, just a few blocks from Trinity College and Grafton Street, the Library opened in 1890.  It was built in the classical style and designed by an architect from Cork, Thomas Deane.  It is also just across the courtyard from The National Museum.  Unlike many libraries in which you might be used to working, this is a closed stack library.  First of all, you will need a reader’s ticket to obtain material.  Then, using the catalog, you complete a request form indicating your reader’s number and desk number and the material will be brought to your desk. The National Library used to be the major repository for microfilms of the Roman Catholic Church records, but those records are now online. If you’re only going to be there for a short time, stop into the Genealogy Advisory Service on the mezzanine level, which has the major reference books and computers to access the some in-house databases, including an Irish Newspaper database.  No reader’s ticket is required to use the Genealogy Advisory Service.

   One place to understand some of the records available in Ireland is by using the Sources Database referenced on the home page of the National Library.   In 1941, Richard Hayes, then the Director of the Library, began a cataloging project that lasted for 30 years.  The result was published as Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation and contained over 17,000 pages of records in multiple volumes. The books are difficult to find outside of Ireland (there is a set at the Family History Library), but this collection has been digitized as the Sources database. Unless your ancestors were well off, you’re not likely to find their names listed, however what you can do is search for the locality where you ancestors lived to find out what records are available and where they are located.  Not everything in the Sources Database is at the National Library.  You’ll find references to material at the National Archives (usually listed as the PRO), the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, and other repositories.  Another way to use Sources is to search for the name of the landlord (from Griffith’s Valuation) to determine if there are any estate records, and where they might be located.  If you find original manuscript material you can make a request and it will be sent to the Manuscript Reading Room (about a half block down from the main Library).  

National Archives   The National Archives of Ireland is about a 15 minute walk from the National Library in a modern office style building at the end of Bishop Street.  A reader's ticket is also required here.  The Archives (also with a Genealogy Advisory Service) contains Irish State records.  Over the past few years they have put a number of their major collections online such as the 1901 and 1910 census as well as the fragments that survived for the 1821-1851 census.  You will also find online the Tithe Applotments, will calendars and the surviving pre-Griffith’s Townland Valuations.  They also have microfilms of some of the surviving Church of Ireland records that were at the PRO at the time of the fire. The Archives houses some estate papers, state documents, including the Rebellion Papers in manuscript form, which again, will have to be requested, and then brought to your desk.  You can also request copies of Wills probated after about 1900 which will be ordered from Four Courts.  These take a day to be brought over, so plan accordingly. (Almost all of the wills prior to 1900 were destroyed in the fire.)

   The Valuation Office is one of my favorite places.  Located in the Irish Life Centre on Lower Abbey Street across the Liffey, it houses the Revision or Cancelled Books from Griffith’s Valuation.  Remember, Griffith's was a tax list and therefore had to be kept up to date so there was a record of the correct person to pay the taxes. If you are not familiar with these records click on the link about to read one of my earlier blogs about them. 

GRO Reading Room Dublin   The General Register Office is located on Werburgh Street.  This is where you can obtain copies of birth, death and marriage certificates from 1864 (1845 for Protestant marriages).  At the present time all of the birth registrations for all of Ireland from 1865-1915 are online at IrishGenealogy.ie. (Note that Irish Data Protection Laws limit the availability of online records to 100 years on births, 75 years on marriages and 50 years on births.) Marriage records are online from 1882-1940 and deaths are online from 1891-1965. The intent is to bring the complete set of legally available records online in the future but no date for the completion has been given.  If you need a certificate outside of the available dates, you can obtain them from the GRO.  You should do all of your index searches on their website prior to arriving as they charge to use the index books onsite (€2 for a specific search covering up to 5 years or €20 for all day).  With the specific information (type of record, name, registration district, year and quarter, volume and page) you can request a photocopy of the record for €4.  You can also research after the cut off dates onsite (data protection laws only relate to online records).   

   If you had ancestors who were Protestant and fairly well off, or if you had family that were merchants, The Registry of Deeds can be a great place to research.  Here’s a link to a guest blog by Polly Kimmitt who attended the research trip in 2014 about her experience.

   In addition to the main repositories there are many other places in Dublin to research.  The Directory of Irish Archives (Fifth Edition) lists repositories all over Ireland, but there are a large number of places in and around Dublin.  Some include: the Dublin City Library and Archive, the  Catholic Library, archives for many of the religious orders, such as the Carmelites, the Dominican Sisters and the Presentation Sisters,  the Quaker Library, the Masonic Grand Lodge, the Garda Museum, and the Military Archives.  Within a short distance by bus or train can be found the Representative Church Body Library (Church of Ireland), St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth, and the National Maritime Museum in Dún Laoghaire.

  If you're in Dublin for research, don't forget to take some time off.   One of my favorite tours is a Historical Walking Tour of Dublin.  There's also Trinity College and the Book of Kells.  Walking down the Liffy across from the Custom House you’ll find the Famine Memorial and the Tall Ship Dublin Famine Museum on the Jenny Johnston and don’t miss the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum which opened in 2016 at the Customs House Quay.  

   Next week I’ll discuss the repositories in Belfast.  

   Happy Hunting!


Just a week left to take advantage of the Early Bird pricing for the 2018 Ireland Research Trips.  Register this week.

Walking Tour

Historical Walking Tour of Dublin


Famine Memorial

The Famine Memorial


Jeanie Johnston

The Tall Ship Famine Museum on the Jenny Johnston


© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2017